Feeds

Storage start-ups fail to set the world on fire

How IT fell for file storage growth myths

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Four file storage problem groups

First was spin-down. Copan and Nexsan and others thought the way to make file storage less onerous was to spin down disk drives and work with a pair of supporting dynamics. One was coming power shortages in metropolitan areas, combined with environmental carbon emission-cutting thinking. The other was data centre space limitations. If you cut electricity use by spinning down disk drives and pack the drives better, then you reduce power draw and space needs simultaneously. You can store more files in less data centre floorspace and need less power. It was a triple whammy win that could not fail.

Secondly, there was file virtualisation. You interpose a special server box between application servers and the multifarious file stores and have all the files in all your file stores represented in this one box inside a global namespace. You virtualise the file stores, so it looks like there is just one file storage universe which app servers can tap into. Acopia and Rainfinity and FilesX tried this route to bring sense to the file storage horror story.

Thirdly, general archival storage boxes sprang up, with EMC's Centera being the obvious one. Others are also plugging away at this space: Caringo, Mimosa, and Waterford. Plasmon tried - and died - here too. Lots of people saw that Centera was sky high in price and as proprietary as you like, and came up with commodity hardware/open software alternatives. None of them toppled Centera from its throne because they weren't good enough, and there wasn't a sufficiently general problem to prompt widespread adoption of their products.

Instead, specific archival storage products - ones focussed on e-mail or SharePoint - have survived and are developing into general archival products, with good compliance and e-Discovery functions. There is a developing market for these products, but it's not as large or as widespread as early product developers hoped.

Fourthly, we saw the development of scale-out filers, often using some form of clustering, to solve the problem of serving very large numbers of files, often large files, to a set of servers simultaneously. The large files would be split across several filers or sub-files with parts served in parallel. Ibrix developed software for this. BlueArc developed FPGA hardware-accelerated super-NAS products. Isilon, Exanet, and ONStor developed clustered filer hardware and software. Again, there is a real problem here but customer interest turned out to be concentrated in two areas and not be general.

Digital movie effects meant that rendering scenes needed massive file delivery horsepower and that benefitted Isilon, Ibrix and BlueArc. It also benefitted some block storage suppliers, like Data Direct Networks but we'll ignore those here because this is a file-focussed story.

High-performance computing (HPC) and supercomputing also needed the same sort of massive filer bandwidth to cope with seismic, simulation and genome-type data. However general business did not.

ESG's Steve Duplessie points out that Web 2.0 companies like Amazon, Google and Yahoo also had an internal need for scale-out filers, and sometimes built their own infrastructure for this in a massively impressive way. It didn't generally benefit our scale-out NAS startups, though, and was specific to these massive-scale Internet-based service suppliers, not to everyday business.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault
Applications need to be built to handle TITSUP incidents
Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first
Researchers test 802.15.4 and find we know nuh-think! about large scale sensor network ops
Turnbull should spare us all airline-magazine-grade cloud hype
Box-hugger is not a dirty word, Minister. Box-huggers make the cloud WORK
SanDisk vows: We'll have a 16TB SSD WHOPPER by 2016
Flash WORM has a serious use for archived photos and videos
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.